Comment Period Announced For Hanford Reach, Cascade-Siskiyou Monuments

Posted May 07, 2017

President Donald Trump's executive order issued April 26 looks at redesignating acreage of national monuments that were expanded under the Antiquities Act, said a Department of Interior news release.

The list includes 22 monuments on federal land in 11 states including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Nevada's Basin and Range and Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine.

As well as taking public comment, Zinke will review the monuments based on criteria such as economic impacts, impacts on different uses of the land, the concerns of state and local governments, and the Antiquities Act's requirements, with the news release highlighting lines in the Act saying a monument should not exceed "the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected" and should be classified as "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures (or) other objects of historic or scientific interest". Other notable monuments under review include Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante, Hanford Reach in Washington, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, the Papahanaumokuakea marine monument off the coast of Hawaii, and a host of others.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the authority to protect lands deemed important for cultural or natural resources, without congressional approval or consultation of local residents. "Part of being a good steward is being a good neighbor and listening to the American people who we represent".

The Department of Interior is seeking public comment, giving the public 15 days to submit comment on the contentious review of Utah's Bear Ears National Monument.

Twenty-seven national monuments, mostly in the West, face the curtailing or elimination of protections put in place over the past two decades by presidents from both parties, the Interior Department said. Beginning May 12, the U.S. Department of Interior will accept public comments on those national monuments to be reviewed.

In December, shortly before leaving office, Obama infuriated Utah Republicans by creating the Bears Ears National Monument on 1.35 million acres of land that's sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings.

While there is no real precedent for rescinding national monument status, redrawing the boundaries of existing monuments has been done, Lee said. Conservationists generally cheer the designations as a way of warding off development. There is no pre-determined outcome on any monument.

Monuments under review had to be created or expanded after January 1996.

"Many large out of state groups and Washington DC bureaucrats advocating for the monument and have made numerous empty promises of increased land access and use", Adams said in the statement.